Those who work with graphics for internet use know the problems inherent to publishing images on the web. Traditionally, the only options for use in internet documents were bitmap images (such as JPG or GIF), with the disadvantage that these images are either too large for quick transfer or of poor quality due to high compression.
As a solution to this problem, Macromedia created the Flash image format. While Flash satisfactorily solved the main problems inherent to bitmap images, some users found it unacceptable that they depended solely on Macromedia to develop the file format and software for the internet-standard vector format. In order to address this discontent and provide an open option for vector graphics, the W3C created the SVG file format, making a freely usable vector format available to everyone.
For most image files, only the specific software that renders the actual image can read them. SVG, however, is described in XML and CSS, and its files can be opened and edited in any ASCII text editor. Though one could create SVG images in this manner, it is highly unproductive and unintuitive. SVG editors and renderers have the ability to easily open and manipulate SVG files without a special interpreter.
Objectives of the SVG Format
The Current State of SVG Software
Today, a number of software applications, both free and proprietary, can create SVG files: Inkscape, Sketch/Skencil, sK1, Karbon14, xfig, Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, Xara, and any ASCII text editor.
Although not well supported by most web browsers, Mozilla (Firefox, Netscape) and other browsers such as Safari and Konqueror currently support a basic subset of SVG, and Internet Explorer uses plugins (i.e. Renesis) which support most of the SVG standard. Amaya has good support for SVG display, including animations, and can also perform basic editing tasks.
The Batik toolkit is a very useful tool for SVG display, and is often used as a reference for checking SVG implementations.